Cookshill Nunnery


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wychavon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 05314 57301


Cistercian nunnery known as Cookhill Priory.

Reasons for Designation

A nunnery was a settlement built to sustain a community of religious women. Its main buildings were constructed to provide facilities for worship, accommodation and subsistence. The main elements are the church and domestic buildings arranged around a cloister. This central enclosure may be accompanied by an outer court and gatehouse, the whole bounded by a precinct wall, earthworks or moat. Outside the enclosure, fishponds, mills, field systems, stock enclosures and barns may occur. Nunneries were established by most of the major religious orders of the time, including the Benedictines, Cistercians, Augustinians, Franciscans and Dominicans. It is known from documentary sources that at least 153 nunneries existed in England, of which the precise locations of only around 100 sites are known. Few sites have been examined in detail and as a rare and poorly understood medieval monument type all examples exhibiting survival of archaeological remains are worthy of protection. Despite the construction of buildings, levelling, partial excavation and afforestation, the Cistercian nunnery known as Cookhill Priory survives reasonably well as visible earthworks, stone foundations and buried features. The monument is of considerable interest with many differing features showing provision for worship, settlement and subsistence. The monument will include layers and deposits containing important archaeological information relating to its use and construction.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 20 May 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records. As such they do not yet have the full descriptions of their modernised counterparts available. Please contact us if you would like further information.

This monument includes a Cistercian nunnery with fishponds and a mill mound located on a prominent ridge on the western side of the River Arrow. The nunnery is known from visible earthworks including banked enclosures, building platforms, hollow ways, a mill mound, moat and twelve fishponds, together with stone foundations and buried features. The nunnery enclosure is sub triangular in plan and is denoted on the north and western sides by a curved bank up to 1m high and partially buried external ditch measuring up to 12m wide. The eastern side is denoted by a large bank and the southern side has a bank and a ditch. A large curved bank up to 460m long, orientated north east to south west divides the site into two segments. Building platforms are situated within the south eastern area of the site with hollow ways linking the platforms with the other features on the site. A large mound is situated at the northern end of the site abutting the eastern enclosure bank and northern ditch. The top of the mound is approximately 34m in diameter and up to 1m high with an encircling moat ditch 50m in diameter. Cross-shaped stone foundations for a mill are situated on the summit of the mound after being excavated in 1969. Between the outer ditch and the inner bank are two large fishponds, the largest is approximately 75m by 55m and is linked by a dam and leat to a smaller pond on the north east. Ten additional fishponds are located in a group between the southern bank and the interior north western bank. The majority of the fishponds are sub rectangular in plan and are connected by leats and water channels.

The nunnery was founded in 1180 and dissolved in 1538. The outer ditch is known as ‘The Nuns Walk’. Elements of the nunnery have been incorporated into farm buildings, a house and the chapel survives as an extant building, and these are listed at Grade II*.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
WT 256
Legacy System:


Pastscape Monument Nos:- 328499 & 328494


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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